PIOLA, Domenico
(b. 1627, Genova, d. 1703, Genova)

Biography

Italian painter, draughtsman, printmaker and designer, part of a family of artists. He was taught to paint by his brother, Pellegro Piola (1617–40). He later worked in partnership with his younger brother, Giovanni Andrea Piola (1627–c. 1713); his three sons Paolo Gerolamo Piola, Anton Maria Piola (1654–1715) and Giovanni Battista Piola (d 1725); his two sons-in-law, Gregorio de’ Ferrari and Domenico Parodi; and his brother-in-law Stefano Camogli (fl 1665–90), a specialist in arabesques of flowers and fruit. From the time of Luca Cambiaso, Genoese ceilings had consisted of rich decorative frescoes surrounded by elaborate ornament. From the latter half of the 17th century and into the early 18th century the Casa Piola came to dominate and unify the production of the various elements involved: quadratura, stucco, sculpture and painting. The workshop’s eminence in all these media enabled it to achieve an artistic monopoly that partially accounts for the decorative consistency in Genoa in the last half of the century. Large decorative projects were comprehensively prepared through drawings, progressing from careful studies of details through compositional sketches to full-scale cartoons. In their decorative projects featuring illusionistic effects the Casa Piola also designed the quadratura, which, to judge from drawings, was often as important to them as the central section of the vault. They also regarded sculpture as an integral part of the design and supplied designs for sculptors, among them Filippo Parodi, Antonio Maria Maragliano, Bernardo Schiaffino and Francesco Maria Schiaffino.

Domenico Piola was the leading artist in Genoa in the second half of the 17th century, providing ceiling frescoes for many Genoese churches and palaces and producing paintings for private collectors. He was also a prolific draughtsman, whose many designs for thesis pages and book illustrations promoted his work throughout Europe. The enormous and multifarious productivity of his studio, his numerous collaborations with other artists and the fact that most of his most ambitious projects have been destroyed have discouraged any systematic study of his work.